2007 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - Grenada
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor|
|Publication Date||11 March 2008|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, 2007 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - Grenada, 11 March 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/47d92c70c.html [accessed 20 December 2014]|
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
March 11, 2008
Grenada is a parliamentary democracy with a bicameral legislature. Grenada and two smaller islands, Carriacou and Petite Martinique, have a population of approximately 105,000. In 2003 Prime Minister Keith Mitchell's New National Party (NNP) won eight of 15 parliamentary seats in generally free and fair elections. The civilian authorities generally maintained effective control of the security forces.
The government generally respected the human rights of its citizens; however, problems included allegations of corruption, violence against women, and instances of child abuse.
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom From:
a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life
There were no reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings.
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The constitution and law prohibit such practices, and there were no confirmed reports that government officials employed them. However, there were occasional allegations that police beat detainees. Flogging, a legal form of punishment, was occasionally used as punishment for sex crimes.
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
Prison conditions generally met international standards, with the exception of overcrowding, and the government permitted visits by independent human rights observers. Overcrowding was a significant problem, as 367 prisoners were housed in space designed for 98 persons.
Women were held in a separate section of the prison from men. There was no separate facility for juveniles, so they were held with the general prison population.
d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention
The constitution and law prohibit arbitrary arrest and detention, and the government generally observed these prohibitions.
Role of the Police and Security Apparatus
The country does not have a military. The 867-person Royal Grenadian Police, together with 232 rural constables, has a hierarchical structure and generally was effective in responding to complaints. However, lack of resources remained a problem. The police commissioner continued a community policing program.
The police report to the minister of national security, who works in the Ministry of the Prime Minister. The police commissioner can discipline officers (up to the rank of sergeant) in cases of brutality with penalties that include dismissal. Only the Public Service Commission can discipline officers with the rank of inspector or above.
The police officer who stole drugs and ammunition from the evidence room in 2005 awaited trial, as did two other officers dismissed for fraud in 2006.
Arrest and Detention
The constitution and law permit police to detain persons on suspicion without a warrant, but they must bring formal charges within 48 hours, and this limit generally was respected. In practice detainees were provided access to a lawyer and family members within 24 hours. The law provides for a judicial determination of the legality of detention within 15 days after arrest on a criminal charge. The police must formally arraign or release a detained person within 60 days, and the authorities generally followed these procedures. There is a functioning system of bail, although persons charged with capital offenses are not eligible. Persons charged with treason may be accorded bail only upon the recommendation of the governor general. The court will appoint a lawyer for the indigent in cases of murder and other capital crimes.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The constitution and law provide for an independent judiciary, and the government generally respected this judicial independence in practice.
The judiciary is a part of the Eastern Caribbean legal system, which consists of three resident judges who hear cases in the High Court twice a year and a Court of Appeals staffed by a chief justice who travels between the Eastern Caribbean islands hearing appeals of local cases. Final appeal may be made to the Privy Council in the United Kingdom.
The constitution and law provide for the right to a fair trial, and an independent judiciary generally enforced this right. There is a presumption of innocence, and the law protects persons against self-incrimination and requires the police to explain a person's rights upon arrest. The accused has the right to remain silent and to seek the advice of legal counsel. The law allows for a defense lawyer to be present during interrogation and to advise the accused how to respond or not to respond to questions. The accused has the right to confront his accuser and has the right of appeal. There are jury trials in the high court only; trials are open to the public unless the charges are sexual in nature or a minor is involved.
The court appoints attorneys for indigents only in cases of murder or other capital crimes. In other criminal cases that reach the appellate stage, the court appoints a lawyer to represent the accused if the defendant was not represented previously or reappoints earlier counsel if the appellant no longer could afford that lawyer's services. With the exception of foreign-born drug suspects or persons charged with murder, the courts grant most defendants bail while awaiting trial.
The June court session was shortened as a result of a resentencing hearing, leading to serious delays for cases in a cascade effect throughout the legal system.
Political Prisoners and Detainees
There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees.
On February 7, the Privy Council (in response to a 2004 request from defense lawyers) directed the High Court to resentence the 13 remaining prisoners of the "Grenada 17," convicted for the 1983 murder of Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and members of his cabinet. (In December 2006 three men identified as the triggermen in the assassination were released from prison, after serving the required two-thirds of their 30-year sentences; one person had been released earlier for medical treatment.) In June the court released three for time served and sentenced the remaining 10 to an additional three years in prison. Charges of bias were raised against the presiding judge during the hearing, based on his association with the prisoners before, during, and allegedly after the 1979-83 revolution, but the judge refused to recuse himself.
Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies
There is an independent and impartial judiciary for civil matters. The civil court system encompasses a number of seats around the country at which magistrates preside over cases.
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
The constitution and law prohibit such actions, and the government generally respected these prohibitions in practice.
2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
The constitution and law provide for freedom of speech and of the press, and the government generally respected these rights in practice. An independent press, an effective judiciary, and a functioning democratic political system combined to ensure freedom of speech and of the press.
There were no government restrictions on access to the Internet or reports that the government monitored e-mail or Internet chat rooms. Individuals and groups could engage in the peaceful expression of views via the Internet, including by e-mail.
Academic Freedom and Cultural Events
There were no government restrictions on academic freedom or cultural events.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
The constitution and law provide for freedom of assembly and association, and the government respected these rights in practice.
c. Freedom of Religion
The constitution and law provide for freedom of religion, and the government generally respected this right in practice.
There is no state religion; however, all religious organizations must register with the government, which entitles them to some customs and import tax exemptions.
Societal Abuses and Discrimination
There were no reports of societal abuses or discrimination, including anti-Semitic acts. The Jewish community was very small.
For a more detailed discussion, see the 2007 International Religious Freedom Report.
d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of Refugees, and Stateless Persons
The constitution and law provide for freedom of movement, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, and the government generally respected these rights in practice.
The law does not address forced exile, but the government did not use it.
Protection of Refugees
The country is not party to the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 protocol. The government has not established a system for providing protection to refugees or asylum seekers. In practice the government provided protection against refoulement, the return of persons to a country where there is reason to believe they fear persecution.
3. Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government
The constitution and law provide citizens the right to change their government peacefully, and citizens exercised this right in practice through periodic, free, and fair elections based on universal suffrage.
Elections and Political Participation
In 2003 the incumbent NNP administration of Prime Minister Keith Mitchell retained power by winning eight of the 15 seats in parliamentary elections generally considered free and fair, but with some irregularities noted by the Organization of American States in several races.
There were four women in the 15-seat Parliament and four women among the 12 appointed senators. There were six female ministers of government.
Government Corruption and Transparency
In March Parliament passed the country's first anticorruption bills, but there was not yet any record of successful prosecutions under these new laws. According to the World Bank's worldwide governance indicators, government corruption was a problem.
There are no laws mandating transparent reporting of political donations or limiting the amount of political donations from non-Grenadians. A foreign court received a sentencing memorandum stating that a witness admitted he had funneled money from the defunct First International Bank of Grenada to Prime Minister Mitchell and other Grenadian officials intended for political activity (which is legal) as well as bribes.
The new anticorruption laws require all public servants to report their income and assets and set up a commission to enforce the rules. Implementation was delayed by an internal government dispute over setting up the commission, but on November 30 the government announced that all outstanding issues had been resolved. The commission had been expected to be in place by year's end, but implementation was delayed by technical problems.
At the urging of the political opposition, the governor general revived the one-person Commission of Inquiry established to investigate whether Prime Minister Mitchell accepted money from a foreign citizen, reportedly in exchange for a diplomatic title. The person who claimed to have videotaped the exchange of money on which the charges were based refused to travel to Grenada to testify. In his absence, and with no witnesses to the alleged act, the commissioner closed the hearing, reporting that no wrongdoing had been proved. The commissioner likewise denied the opposition's request to cross-examine witnesses, stating that there were none.
Although there is no law providing for public access to government information, citizens may request access to any information that is not deemed classified. There is no national archive system, but the public library attempted to archive those official documents to which it had access.
4. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
A number of domestic and international human rights groups generally operated without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases. Government officials generally were cooperative and responsive to their views. Most local NGOs were connected to the main political parties and were viewed with some suspicion by a wary public.
5. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
The constitution and law prohibit discrimination based on race, place of origin, political opinion, color, creed, or gender, and the government generally upheld these prohibitions.
The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape, and stipulates a sentence of flogging or up to 15 years' imprisonment for a conviction of any nonconsensual form of sex. In the June court session, 13 out of 65 cases dealt with either rape or related charges: six rape cases, three indecent exposure cases, and four unlawful carnal knowledge cases.
Women's rights monitors noted that violence against women remained a serious problem. The law prohibits domestic violence and provides for penalties at the discretion of the presiding judge based on the severity of the offense. Police and judicial authorities usually acted promptly in cases of domestic violence. Sentences for assault against a spouse vary according to the severity of the incident. A 2006 domestic abuse case, in which a teacher allegedly killed his wife, still awaited trial. A shelter accommodating approximately 20 battered and abused women and their children operated in the northern part of the country, staffed by medical and psychological counseling personnel. The government established and publicized an anonymous hot line for victims to get help and for persons to report cases of abuse.
Prostitution is illegal but existed. There are no laws prohibiting sex tourism.
The law prohibits sexual harassment, but there are no criminal penalties for it. It is the responsibility of the complainant to bring a civil suit against an alleged harasser. A number of local organizations spoke out against sexual discrimination on radio and television programs to raise women's awareness of their rights. The programs also addressed issues of women's health, particularly the risks of HIV/AIDS.
Women generally enjoyed the same rights as men, and there was no evidence of official discrimination in health care, employment, or education; however, women frequently earned less than men performing the same work.
The government was committed to children's rights and welfare. The Social Welfare Division within the Ministry of Housing, Social Services, and Cooperatives provided probationary and rehabilitative services to youths, day care services and social work programs to families, assistance to families wishing to adopt or provide foster care to children, and financial assistance to the six children's homes run by private organizations.
Education was compulsory, free, and universal until the age of 16. Most children attend school; absenteeism caused by parents keeping their children home either to care for younger children or because they could not afford to buy books and uniforms is a problem the government was trying to quantify. A number of local NGOs and the government provided scholarships to needy families to pay for books, uniforms, and transport. Boys and girls were treated equally in schooling.
There was a community college and one university. A few students continued their education at the college level by traveling abroad, but St. George's University created an undergraduate program and provided scholarships to needy local students, which enabled many students to continue their education at home.
Government social service agencies reported 25 physical abuse and 12 sexual abuse cases during the year, substantially higher than in 2006. Abused children were placed either in a government-run home or in private foster homes. The law stipulates penalties ranging from five to 15 years' imprisonment for those convicted of child abuse and disallows the victim's alleged "consent" as a defense in cases of incest. The government worked to raise awareness within the population about child and spousal abuse, as well as incest, using television and radio spots and having government ministers raise the topic in schools, political rallies, and other venues.
Trafficking in Persons
The constitution and law do not prohibit trafficking in persons; however, there were no reports that persons were trafficked to, from, or within the country.
Persons with Disabilities
The constitution and law do not protect job seekers with disabilities from discrimination in employment. The law does not mandate access to public buildings or services. The government provided for special education in its school system; however, most parents chose to send their children to three special education schools operating in the country. Persons with disabilities had full access to the health care system and other public services. The government and NGOs continued to provide training and work opportunities for such persons. The Ministry of Social Services includes an office responsible for looking after persons with disabilities, as well as the Council for the Disabled, which reviews disability-related issues.
The ancestors of many citizens came to Grenada from India as indentured servants, many of whom found themselves in slave-like conditions. Descendants of this population make up approximately 8 percent of the population, but their history is not taught in the schools. Some complained about discrimination based on their origins, although most have intermarried with descendants of European background and of the African slave trade. The government began to educate the larger population about this group's contributions to the country's development.
Other Societal Abuses and Discrimination
The law criminalizes consensual homosexual relations, providing penalties of up to 10 years' imprisonment. Society generally frowned upon homosexuality, and many churches condemned it. There was no perceptible discrimination against those with HIV/AIDS, partly because the disease was widespread in the general population, including women infected by partners engaging in sex with men and boys. The government encouraged citizens to be tested and to get treatment. An NGO, GRENCHAP, provided counseling to those affected by HIV/AIDS.
6. Worker Rights
a. The Right of Association
The constitution and law allow workers to form and join independent labor unions. Labor ministry officials estimated that 52 percent of the work force was unionized. All major unions belong to one umbrella labor federation, the Grenada Trades Union Council, which was subsidized by the government.
The law does not oblige employers to recognize a union formed by their employees if the majority of the work force does not belong to the union; however, they generally did so in practice.
The law prohibits antiunion discrimination, and employers can be forced to rehire employees if a court finds they were discharged illegally.
b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
Workers exercised the legal right to organize and to participate in collective bargaining. The law requires employers to recognize a union that represents the majority of workers in a particular business. There are no export processing zones.
The law provides workers with the right to strike, and workers exercised this right in practice.
The Grenada Union of Teachers called for a day of rest and reflection on November 30, demanding that a 2003 labor agreement be honored. Most teachers heeded the call and did not go to work. The government stated that the teachers had only negotiated an allowance for those who had reached the maximum allowed at their grade, which the government was prepared to pay. The union sought a salary increase for all teachers, which the government said had not been negotiated in 2003.
c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
The government prohibits forced or compulsory labor, including by children, and there were no reports that such practices occurred.
d. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment
Although child labor is illegal, children sometimes worked in the agricultural sector on family farms. The statutory minimum age for employment of children is 18 years. Inspectors from the Ministry of Labor enforced this provision in the formal sector through periodic checks, but enforcement in the informal sector remained a problem.
e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
The Ministry of Labor last updated minimum wages in 2002. Minimum wages were set for various categories of workers; for example, agricultural workers were classified into male and female workers. Rates for men were $1.85 (EC$5.00) per hour, and for women $1.75 (EC$4.75) per hour; however, if a female worker performed the same task as a man, her rate of pay was the same. The minimum wage for domestic workers was set at $148 (EC$400) monthly. The national minimum wage did not provide a decent standard of living for a worker and family. During the year 31 percent of the population earned less than the official poverty line, which was drawn at $222 (EC$599) per month. The government effectively enforced minimum wages.
The law provides for a 40-hour maximum workweek. The law does not stipulate rest periods, although no one can be asked to work for longer than five hours consecutively without a one-hour meal break. In addition, domestic employees may not, by law, be asked to work longer than a 10-hour period without at least two hours of breaks for meals and rest periods. Union-negotiated contracts often mandated rest breaks. The law requires a premium for work above the standard workweek and prohibits excessive or compulsory overtime.
The government sets health and safety standards, but the authorities enforced them inconsistently. Workers have the right to remove themselves from dangerous workplace situations without jeopardy to continued employment.